The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) were nominated for the award by Simon King, from the East of England Ambulance Service for the work that we have being doing over the past year to support the EEAST.

Susan Lusanda, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire said; “As High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, it is my absolute pleasure to recognise Bedfordshire Fire Service with an Outstanding Service to the Community Award. The role played by the Fire Service during this pandemic has been astounding. You have provided practical help to the local community and significantly supported the East of England Ambulance Service allowing them to focus on carrying those patients suffering from Covid - 19, all while continuing your vital role of keeping us safe and responding to incidents.

“I wish to thank all those within the Fire Service for their dedication and commitment this year. It has been a difficult year for so many reasons, in particular the added stress of balancing the pressure of work with family needs has been tough. However the Fire Service has definitely risen to the challenge! I would also like to personally thank Chief Fire Officer Mr Paul Fuller CBE for his exemplary leadership during this time, not only within the service but throughout our community.

“The people of Bedfordshire are so proud of the role that Bedfordshire Fire Service has played in helping us to tackle this pandemic. This award, I hope goes some way to show just how grateful we all are.”

Paul Fuller, Chief Fire Officer said; “I am delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Fire Service. This has been an outstanding partnership over the past year and we intend to continue to develop and strengthen this relationship further. By working together we can offer a valuable joined up emergency service ensuring that we keep more ambulances on the road. We have developed and learnt new skills from both services and this has shown that by working together we can be stronger and offer an outstanding service to our communities. I am extremely proud of the way our staff have responded to this national emergency.”

The nomination from EEAST was for a number of joint activities;

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) have supported the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) over the past year to provide key support during the COVID-19 pandemic, BFRS staff have lead their colleagues regionally and some of these initiatives are national firsts also.

BFRS have collaborated with EEAST on many different projects but the below three areas have been key. These initiatives have meant BFRS staff working in completely new roles and outside their previous experience and volunteering as pioneers.

The first was providing over 30 seconded firefighters to drive ambulances across Bedfordshire. Between April-December firefighters worked over 1733 hours and covered frontline (1480 shifts). This has been fundamental to allow EEAST to flex and provide a constant level of care to patients within the community. BFRS have been the only Fire and Rescue Service across the region to maintain its support to EEAST during this challenged time with supporting being continued to date.

Secondly in March 2020 a new Falls Service team was established. This team responds to vulnerable people who fall in their homes and require assistance post fall. The team undertook a week’s long training course provided by EEAST and this also allows them to attended Category 1 life threatening emergency calls along with lower acuity falls calls. The team will assess a patient for any new injures and if uninjured will discharge the patient safety at home using’s EEAST clinical advice line. The falls team will also complete fire safety activities and can refer these vulnerable people to the Safe and Well scheme if required. This team have now responded to over 100 calls and have safely discharged 70% of patients within the community responding on average to a falls call pan Bedfordshire within 23 minutes. This has allowed EEAST to respond to higher acuity calls such as patients experiencing breathing difficulties related to COVID.

In August a new Technical Support Unit, based at Dunstable Fire Station. This was the first of its kind in the country. This vehicle responds to Bariatric and complex patient incidents where emergency removal of a patient is required to support EEAST. This dedicated vehicle carries specialist equipment including a bariatric stretcher which, enables crews to provide the best possible care to the patient. This has allowed for a dedicated bariatric response improving both patient care and experience.

Fire fighters form Harrold, Potton and Leighton Buzzard have stepped forward to support the local community and have now started to provide a medical responding model. This model has been vital for providing a first line medical response in the community and the teams have been deployed to patients in cardiac arrest. The team’s swift mobilization to calls such as cardiac arrests have in turn have saved lives.

Simon King, from EEAST said; “Firefighters and the community safety team from BFRS have played an important role in helping to keep patients, staff, and volunteers safe by giving up their time to drive ambulances and providing a falls service and providing specialist response patients. Staff from BFRS truly have stood by the services values and have dared to be different to help support the Ambulance Service and the NHS during this increased time of pressure. I look forward to continuing this fantastic partnership with the BFRS in the future and we have more initiatives planned to strengthen our partnership further.”

To find out more and keep up to date with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s activity, please visit their website or follow them on Instagram and Twitter @bedsfire